COVID-19 data challenge to research connections of illness
One of the best tools for combatting the coronavirus pandemic is in the analysis of the copious amounts of data regarding the disease created every day. This might be analysing how it spreads, or who is at most at risk.
In the US, data company Hitachi Vantara, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, is partnering with the American Heart Association and healthcare blockchain firm BurstIQ to expose datasets about COVID-19 to researchers and clinicians in the hope that its relationship with other health conditions can be clarified.
It is a fact that certain parts of the population are at far more risk of dying from COVID-19 - whether that’s due to pre-existing health conditions or due to disparities in ethnicity, gender, geography, income or many other factors.
“People living in under-resourced communities, particularly African Americans and U.S. Hispanics, appear to be dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, as they’re more likely to have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science for the American Heart Association, in the accompanying press release. “Long before the pandemic, systemic challenges have contributed to disparities that impede some people from living long, healthy lives. COVID-19 has further exacerbated this issue.”
Consequently, the organisations are giving researchers access to BurstIQ’s global COVID-19 datasets available on the Hitachi Vantara-built cloud-based Precision Medicine Platform used by the American Heart Association in order to “address the unsolved questions of how COVID-19 may be disproportionally affecting those with health disparities.” More than $100,000 worth of prize funding is in place for peer-reviewed applications.
“Improving collaboration around data between researchers and scientists enables the rapid co-creation of new solutions that more quickly and effectively tackle existing and new healthcare threats such as COVID-19,” said Paul Watson, vice president Healthcare & Life Sciences, Hitachi Vantara. “Working together our three organizations will deliver a paradigm shift in the way researchers and their institutions leverage data to solve medical challenges like COVID-19.”
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.